With winter long behind us and the warmer temperatures that spring and summer bring now here (THANK YOU Mother Nature!), I’ve shifted from the soups and stews that go hand-in-hand with winter, to incorporating more raw meals into my meal planning. This shift includes this delicious take on spaghetti and meatballs w/ marinara - raw, vegan style!
Raw food is unprocessed and uncooked food. Furthermore, food is considered raw if prepared below a temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures exceeding that, food begins to lose its vital enzymes and nutrients.[i]
As we know, fresh food contains critical nutrients that our body requires to both generate and maintain our energy levels. Naturally, when food is cooked, some of the enzymes, vitamins and minerals we so require get destroyed.[ii] On the contrary, when we consume high volumes of overly-cooked, microwaved and processed foods, our digestive tract becomes overwhelmed and clogged, contributing to the conditions that will trigger disease.[iii] As such, it is essential that our diet remain balanced with both consumption of raw food, dense with its live enzymes and nutrients, and gently-cooked meals that balance our system without throwing it drastically off course!
Benefits of Raw Food:
Reduces cholesterol levels in the body (contains less trans fats and saturated fats)
Improves the appearance of skin
Reduces the conditions for disease
Concentrated in fiber, potassium and magnesium
Less time-demanding; does not require the energy sources, nor reheating, that cooked food does
Environmentally friendly (less packaging, reduced use of energy)[iv]
A spiralizer is a fantastic tool to have on hand in the kitchen, whether it be a small, handheld one or larger version, as shown below. Both are reasonably priced and the choice depends on your kitchen storage capacity and desired price point. The one shown in the picture below comes with 3 blades (for slicing, shredding or curling), and is called the "Big Boss Slice-A-Roo" (it may be viewed on Amazon here). A smaller, handheld one, may be viewed on Amazon here.
In terms of the marinara sauce and the meatless “meatballs”, a food processor will do all of the work for you (my kind of food prep!).
While the inspiration for the walnut meatballs and marinara source pictured are recipes exclusive to the culinary nutrition program I recently completed, the recipe options available online are endless. A close parallel to the meatballs may be viewed here. This recipe was composed by another graduate of the program.
*Optional: I did ever-so-slightly warm the meatballs after rolling them. I placed them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, as shown below, warming them for about 10 minutes at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another delicious variation on meatless (lentil mushroom) meatballs, including a (gluten-free and vegan) marinara sauce may be viewed here, by a fellow Canadian food blogger. Depending on your nutritional needs and any restrictions you may have, ingredients swaps may be easily made! Staple ingredients in the meatless meatball recipes tend to be fresh garlic, onion and fresh herbs (i.e. basil, parsley, oregano). In terms of the marinara, I would encourage the use of freshly diced tomatoes over stewed tomatoes, if possible, and use of fresh herbs (i.e. basil, parsley and oregano).
Convenience-wise, this raw meal allows you to compose a nutrient-dense and live enzyme-packed meal demanding less time, energy and resources, that can be enjoyed as leftovers for lunch or dinner without requiring a source to reheat it. And, you're giving your body a healthy dose of the "aliveness" it so greatly requires!
[i]-[iv] Global Healing Centre: The Benefits of a Raw Food Diet. Retrieved April 21, 2016 from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-raw-food-diet/